College students spend summer building a passive DIY freezer

How’d you spend your summers during college? Working a crappy job? Taking more classes? Laying around in front of the TV at your parents’ house? In Burlington, Vermont, a group of students undertook an internship under the tutelage of physics teacher Tom Tailer to eliminate the the electricity use of refrigerating and freezing food by building a passive freezer “out of mostly local, recycled or reused products.”

That’s right… these students are taking found lumber, Styrofoam, and plastic soda bottles, and making a freezing/refrigeration unit that works solely from “storing” cold air from frigid Vermont winters in a water and salt solution in the bottles. If it works as planned, the combination of frozen salt water and insulation should keep food frozen even in the summer (provided no warm air’s let in… so still some design issues in play).

The freezer project is just one of seven in Burlington this summer, and others around the country, that students joined as a part of non-profit organization Grand AspirationsSummer of Solutions program. Started in the summer of 2008, Summer of Solutions was designed “to address the ‘summer gap’ that slowed down the projects the amazing sustainability work they did in their colleges and communities.” The idea’s caught on: focused on the Twin Cities in ’08, Summer of Solutions programs took place in twelve cities around the US this year.

The video provides an overview of the program from its first year… it’s easy to see how this concept has grown: these kids are both smart and passionate.

Did you get a chance to witness, or even participate in, any Summer of Solutions projects? Or similar summer activities? Share your stories with us…

via Burlington Free Press and It’s Getting Hot in Here